FRISCO, Texas — Before FC Dallas took the field against the LA Galaxy last Sunday, league MVP David Ferreira took the opportunity to offer some advice to Eric Avila – the man who was stepping into the Colombian’s role after he went down with a major ankle injury.
“He told me to just relax and play my game, how I always play in practice and that I’d be fine,” Avila told reporters after Wednesday’s training session. “’Take your time, breathe, relax and be comfortable.’”
But merely “playing his game” was not good enough for Avila. Ferreira’s replacement did his homework on how the 5-foot-5 Colombian moves about the pitch. He went through game video from previous matches to get a better idea of Ferreira’s movements in the attack and the positions he assumed in FCD’s 4-1-4-1 formation as the designated No. 10.
“It was great just watching him and how he moves the ball and the way he hides and he gets it out of nowhere,” Avila said. “That’s what I was trying to develop.”
However his stint turns out as Ferreira’s substitute, seven games into the 2011 campaign Avila is already having a memorable year, statistically speaking. Through the first seven matches, Avila has logged 255 minutes, more than half his total minutes accumulated from the 2010 season in which he played 452 minutes in 18 games.
In his fourth MLS season from UC Santa Barbara, Avila also has two starts on the campaign. One came in the season opener as a left-sided midfielder and then last weekend he served as the attacking center midfielder in manager Schellas Hyndman’s five-man midfield alignment.
Avila immediately showed his potential when he filled in for Ferreira in the regular-season fixture in Vancouver, where he scored the late game-winning goal. He scored a slick, low, 18-yard blast through the legs of Whitecaps defender Blake Wagner after Ferreira was carted off the field.
Hyndman praised Avila’s most recent performance against the Galaxy, but also reminded the media that there was room for improvement.
“It was a really good game for him [vs. LA] because I thought their midfield with Juninho and [David] Beckham weren’t those types of players that are real hard and physical, so it was a good game for Avi to find spaces,” Hyndman said Wednesday afternoon. “I thought he was improving as the game was went on. The area that he needs to keep working on is those killer passes. We looked at him again a little bit today and we showed [him] how many opportunities we had on the breakout, which I think is going to be one of our strengths.”
When asked if he was set to start again this weekend, Avila smiled and supplied the obvious response.
“Hopefully, I think I did well,” he said. “My teammates helped me out in that role and I helped them out. Hopefully we continue and I can keep playing that position.”